Kagome and Sango sat outside underneath a spreading oak tree, drinking tea as they watched Sango’s children and four of the villagers’ children playing in the garden before them. Two of the boys, Sango’s oldest son, Naoya and Takeshi, the village headman’s grandson, were dressed in the clothes of Buddhist novices. Even so, they played tag with the others with as much enthusiasm.
Kagome yawned as Sango poured more tea into her friend’s cup.
“You look tired, Kagome-chan. Chiyo’s birthing took a long time. Are you sure you don’t want to stay here tonight before going up the mountain? You’re more than welcome if you don’t mind all the noise."
Kagome smiled and laughed a little, holding her teacup carefully in the palm of her hand. “I really ought to go rescue Rin and Sesshoumaru. They were nice enough to watch Atae and Yukika because I wasn’t sure how long it would take with Chiyo’s baby.” She sighed and took a sip of her tea.
Kiyome, Sango’s middle child, ran up and sat next to her mother. “Mama, hold my ball,” she said, handing her a brightly colored temari ball. “Tada keeps trying to take it.”
Sango wrapped her fingers around the ball and gave her son, looking like a five-year-old version of his father, a hard look. The boy swallowed, then turned and started chasing his older brother. “I’ve got it, sweetie. Go play now.”
Kiyome nodded, and ran over to where Yasuko and Noriko were sitting with their dolls and sewing.
“Never a dull moment around here, “Sango said, smiling at her friend as she put the ball down and sipped her own tea. “As busy as I am, I know your hands must be full with InuYasha gone.”
“There are moments,” Kagome confessed.
Miroku stepped out of one of the buildings and rang a bell. With a collective sigh, Naoya and his older sisters and the villagers lined up and followed Miroku into one of the buildings, off to continue their lessons for the day. Sango’s three younger children, Kiyome, Tadeshi and Saneo came over and sat next to the two women, and Sango gave all three of them a treat.
While the children ate, Sango said, “Noriko could go with you if you want until InuYasha gets back, or like I said, you could spend the night here and get a little rest before heading back home. You were up all night.”
“That is so tempting,” Kagome said. “Maybe I could stay here tonight.”
“No,” said a gruff, tired voice from behind them. “No, you can’t.”
“InuYasha!” Kagome said, turning around and standing up. Her husband stood there, tired, dusty, and looking at her with intense, wanting eyes.
Summing up the situation quickly, Sango also stood up and said, “Welcome back, InuYasha. You’ve been missed.” Gathering her children, she herded them back toward their house.
“I didn’t expect you home yet,” Kagome said. “Not for a day or two more.”
InuYasha’s arms encircled her waist. “Keh,” he muttered, pulling her closer. Their lips met. What started as a gentle greeting kiss escalated quickly into something much more intense. InuYasha reluctantly pulled away. “Some things are worth hurrying up for,” he said. “ What are you doing here, anyway? I stopped at the house first, and it was empty. Even the fire pit was cold.”
“Chiyo had her baby today,” Kagome replied. “Rin and Sesshoumaru offered to watch the children until I got back.” Lifting up her hand she brushed the hair by his left ear, spattered with something dark and dried. “What’s this?”
“Oh, some stupid youkai didn’t like the way I was hurrying home. Didn’t slow me down too much.” He turned his head into her touch as she scratched the base of his ear. “Wanna wash my hair for me? I put the tub water on to heat before I came down here.”
Smiling, she nodded. “I’m not sure what I’ll feed you if you’re hungry. I guess I can make some soup and rice.”
“Doesn’t matter,” he said, nuzzling her ear. “What I really want to eat is you.” With a final peck on her lips, he turned around for her to climb on his back.
For some reason as she wrapped her arms and legs around him, and he began to run, she didn’t nearly feel as tired.